Mum Of 11's Creative Way To Help Her Family Survive The Drought
Jacinta Haycock is a farmer, artist and a mother of 11 children -- and somehow she juggles it all at once.
Mum Haycock "goes somewhere" when she paints. Her works are bright and colourful, featuring impressionistic florals, koalas and cattle painted in her own "quirky" way.
"They could be dripping with blood and black, but they're not," she told 10 daily.
"They're bright and colourful, and that's me."
Haycock has always loved to paint, describing it partly as an "escape" from the busy life around her. But only recently has it become a lifeline.
Haycock has 11 children and raises her family while running a 960-acre cattle farm outside the regional NSW town of Dubbo.
She has always lived in the country, growing up on a large sheep property where she was home-schooled before moving to a nearby property in Dubbo.
Haycock returned to her home town to teach at an infants school for five years.
"Then I just stayed at home and had babies!" she said.
Life With A Large Family
From a young age, Haycock knew she wanted to have a large family. Luckily her husband was on board with the idea.
"I always said I wanted six kids. When number seven came along, I told my hubby, 'we need an even number!' she laughed.
"I remember him looking a bit ashen, but I think he was beaten by that point!"
Haycock went on to have 10 children in 11 years. Four years later, she had number 11, Lars. Now, their kids range in age from three to 24, and 10 of them still live on the property.
A Normal Family
Haycock's days are busy. She said she's up at 4am every day to go for a run before getting some of the kids ready for school. After finishing the housework and making an early dinner, she heads out to her art shed to paint.
"I'll generally stay there until midnight, and start all over again," she said.
Haycock said she doesn't think about all of her responsibilities -- she just gets on with them.
"We're just a normal family -- there's probably just a few more of us," she said.
"They're very normal kids; they get on really well, they all look after each other and they do a lot for each other when they need to."
That has been the case in recent years, as the drought took hold. About two years ago, the drought forced the family to destock their cattle and they couldn't afford to buy back in.
Living out of Dubbo, the family could not access town water. In recent times, they've been buying $400 worth of water every two weeks to get by.
And while Haycock said her painting commissions were a welcome income stream, she said she started to get worried when the farm income dried up.
"We were down to the point where I thought I was going to have to go back to work as a teacher," she said.
That was until 'Buy from the Bush' came along -- and their financial weight lifted.
The 'Buy from the Bush' social media campaign started last year to connect vendors from regional and rural Australia with customers outside their drought-ravaged communities.
The Instagram page, which showcases sellers across the country, has almost 220,000 followers.
Haycock said within 20 minutes of being featured on the page, three of her artworks sold.
From there, she said things went "gangbusters".
"That was just unheard of for us ... I can't tell you the financial weight that lifted for us," she said.
"It just came at the perfect time."
Art Vs Drought
Haycock's family is among those who have celebrated recent rain in NSW.
While more rain is needed to fill the dams, she said the mood in town has shifted.
So too, has the mother's desire to "make something of herself" as an artist.
"It has always been there and I've always pushed it away because I've always focused on my family," she said.
"But it is starting to come to the surface a bit, and I feel like I can do something with it now ... It's allowing me to find Jacinta again."
Jacinta Haycock's work will be featured at the upcoming Sydney Gift Fair on February 21-24 at Sydney Olympic Park.